Is there a difference between consequences and punishment? I didn’t think so. Think about these statements – “If you do this you’ll be punished” or “If you do this there will be consequences” – they’re the same right? Or are they?
Let’s be honest: isn’t a “consequence” really just a politically-correct term for “punishment?”
I recently read an article on the topic from a site called parenthacks.com. The article and the understanding it delivered presented me with (potentially) a new way to have my children willingly take on more responsibility around the house. And it’s all from knowing the difference betwen consequences and punishment. Here’s what I took away from the article:
- Consequences encourage responsibility by holding kids accountable for THEIR actions.
- Punishments tempt kids to avoid responsibility by shifting their attention to YOUR actions.
- When I punish my kids, their attention stays focused on me, but when my kids experience the consequences of their behaviour, they are more likely to think about how they could have done things differently.
- Sometimes it’s a matter of tone – I really liked this part because a consequence is usually delivered completely differently from a punishment.
- Punishment has its place – If your child does something that is against the rules and they are aware of the rules, they still need an appropriate punishment.
I’m still not sure if there is a really distinct line between a consequence and a punishment, however I will be trying to attach consequences to actions more often now in my quest to make my little humans into responsible adults. I tried this almost straight away on the old discipline favourite, “keep your bedroom tidy” and it yielded surprising results.
Instead of issuing the normal punishment options for non-compliance, I told my daughters that I was interested in going to the movies on the weekend and anyone with a clean bedroom could come along. My two daughters immediately started planning how they’d get the job done, who would do what, etc. Wow! There might be something to this consequences and punishment thing after all.
Be sure to leave a comment if you’ve had any successes with this method.
PS: If you’d like to read the whole article you can find it here – Consequences vs. Punishment: How They’re Different and Why It Matters